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Grants Fund Higher Ed Projects Using Technology for Public Good

The Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) has announced its inaugural list of grantees for its Network Challenge. Twenty-seven grants were awarded to 21 colleges and universities to support projects focused on training engineers, policymakers and social justice advocates on how to use technology for the public good.

PIT-UN was created earlier this year by a group of 21 colleges and universities with funding from the Ford Foundation, New America and the Hewlett Foundation. The Network Challenge is providing $3 million in grants to fund the first cohort of projects.

Some of the projects are designed to help universities engage with their local communities. The City University of New York, for example, will build a summer bridge program to encourage "diverse graduating high school students" to enter PIT-related academic and experiential learning programs in college.

Other efforts are giving students opportunities to gain work experience at federal, state and local government agencies. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is setting up a Cybersecurity Clinic to place MIT students at city agencies to help document their vulnerabilities to cyberattacks.

There are also projects focused on developing open educational resources. At Carnegie Mellon University, for instance, Professor Yulia Tsvetkov has received a grant to create open-access educational materials from her Computational Ethics course.

"By fostering a new generation of public-interested technologists and spurring collaboration across disciplines and institutions, these grants will help ensure that technology and innovation play a role in solving the complex problems that the world faces — from climate change to national security, digital disinformation to economic inequality," said Hewlett Foundation President Larry Kramer.

The full list of grantee institutions:

Colleges and universities who are interested in joining PIT-UN can contact New America at pituninfo@newamerica.org.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@1105media.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.


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